Category Archives: Stories

Old Pakowki, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…

Old Pakowki, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain…(with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein II).

Following the arrival of rail in 1915, a townsite sprung up at Pakowki, about eight miles east of Etzikom along Highway 61. Pakowki, which is pronounced “Pa-coke-ee” by the locals, roughly translated from Blackfoot means “bad water”, a reference to nearby Pakowki Lake. For a brief period, the settlement at Pakowki included a hotel and livery, two (possibly three) elevators, and the ubiquitous lumber company. The Ghost Town Journal states this bona fide ghostly burg was also home to a Chinese restaurant, machine shop, machinery agent, and two general stores, during its heyday.

However, Pakowki’s heyday was short-lived, as residents and merchants migrated east with the railway the following year, and the townsite dispersed to Orion and Manyberries. According to Orion icon, Boyd Stevens, farmers continued to haul wheat to the siding for a time, dumping on the ground until it could be loaded into boxcars and shipped. In later years, Stevens said Community Auction Sales operated a stockyard at Pakowki, the remains of which are all that is left of the community today.

It’s gonna rain some more tomorrow

When I was a little boy living out on the farm at Kinnondale, I remember hearing the distinctive song of the Western Meadowlark coming from the fields.

“Listen,” dad would say, “he says ‘It’s gonna rain some more tomorrow, it’s gonna rain some more tomorrow’”.

The rain seldom came, but hope springs eternal, on the great Alberta plains. Photo taken at Bassano, Alta. July 2019.

In remembrance: The Great War took its toll on Alberta’s southeast

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, I have reached back into the Forgotten Alberta archives to re-post a retrospective on the impact of the Great War on Palliser’s Triangle.

This article was originally published in the Prairie Post East on November 16, 2012

It has been said the Canadian nation was born on the battlefields of Europe during the First World War.

While the end of the war in 1918 marked a new beginning for Canada, its commencement four years earlier signaled the beginning of the end for many southeastern Alberta communities.

Following the declaration of war in 1914, overseas investment in mines, farms, railways and irrigation projects across Palliser’s Triangle dried up nearly overnight.

The economic and social fallout that ensued forever altered the landscape of Alberta’s southeast, and helped inflame ethnic tensions that smoldered long after conflict ceased.

As detrimental as the entire episode seems today, back in the summer of 1914, declaration of war was seen as cause for celebration.

Continue reading In remembrance: The Great War took its toll on Alberta’s southeast

Listen: Forgotten Alberta with Joe McFarland

Thanks to Joe McFarland at CHQR770 yesterday for the amazing opportunity to talk about ghost towns – specifically (old) Bow City and Alderson (a.k.a Carlstadt, a.k.a. Langevin). It was lots of fun, with minimal stammering.

I have embedded the podcast of yesterday’s broadcast below  for your listening enjoyment. You can check out the scary situation at Calgary City Hall first, or fast forward to 6:55 where my interview kicks in.

For reference, here are a few links to content on the site about Alderson, and (old) Bow City:

Also be sure to check out Empire of Dust by David C. Jones – a compelling read that has influenced me greatly.